Medicare and Medicaid: keeping Americans healthy for 50 years

Did you know Medicare and Medicaid turn 50 this week? The landscape of health care in America changed forever on July 30, 1965, when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark amendment to the Social Security Act, giving life to the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Medicare and Medicaid save lives. They help people live longer and provide the peace of mind that comes with affordable health care that’s there when you need it.

It’s easy to forget that before 1966, roughly half of all seniors were uninsured and many disabled people, families with children, pregnant women and low-income working Americans were unable to afford the medical care they needed to stay healthy and productive.

Today, Medicare and Medicaid cover nearly 1 out of every 3 Americans—that’s well over 100 million people. It’s highly likely that you, someone in your family or someone you know has Medicare, Medicaid or both. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of these lifesaving programs lets us reflect on how they transformed the delivery of health care in the United States.

More than 55 million Americans depend on Medicare to cover hospital stays, lab tests and critical supplies like wheelchairs, as well as prescription drugs. Medicare also covers 23 types of preventive services, including flu shots and diabetes screenings. Some of these services are free, and for others you only have a small copayment or pay the deductible.Medicaid provides comprehensive coverage to more than 70 million eligible children, pregnant women, low-income adults and people living with disabilities. It covers essential services like annual check-ups, care for new and expecting mothers, and dental care for kids from low-income families.

How has Medicare or Medicaid (or both) helped your life or the life of someone you care about? Whether you’ve just enrolled or have been covered for decades, we’d love to hear from you. You can share your Medicare or Medicaid story through our Medicare.gov website, or connect with us on Twitter or our newly-launched Facebook page.